I don’t recall which author said it, but I’ve always remembered a very specific piece of writing advice:
Write about the things you can’t forget, the things that keep you up at night.
I take that to mean: write about scenes you can’t stop replaying in your head, write about the moments that still horrify and provoke you, write about the events where you’d like to dig a hole in the ground and disappear from the world in which they ever existed.
In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Roxana Robinson discusses that impulse—to write toward your anxieties. She says:
All the fiction I write arises from the same sort of impulse: it’s a feeling of discomfort, a kind of unspecified anxiety, a need to uncover something that troubles and disturbs me. I write toward that feeling. I try to explain it to myself in order to disarm it, to rob it of its potency. I don’t know how this explanation will happen. I don’t know how the disarmament will take place, or what else will happen in the process.
Also this month at Glimmer Train: